What now?

Several years ago, I left a job after over twelve years. I remember that first day after I resigned, I decided to take a week off and wait for my new job to begin. I was uncomfortable, bitter, and out of sorts – feeling as though I had lost something, but not knowing exactly what it was. I had a similar feeling yesterday at the end of the day. Friday was a short day, but it counted as a workday and an attendance day for the students. I was finished with all of my duties as a teacher, cleaned my room, filed my grades and I was on my way home. I was exhausted and spent. The previous weeks had been frenetic at work and I had put off things at home to finish things at school, and vice versa. I was mess.

When I pulled into the driveway, Beth was gone running errands, and Ivy greeted me. It was exactly what I needed; really, I mean it. I could unpack the car and then, lie down on the couch and take a nap, and I did. I started to read my book but I could barely make only a couple pages before I put it down and fell asleep. Ivy helped and napped along with me lying at my feet. I knew when I lay down I had a short window, perhaps a forty minutes or so, but no more. Before I knew it, Beth was home, then William, and then Olivia. But, the forty-minute nap was exactly what I needed.

Before long, the cold wet overcast morning was replaced by a cool dry sunny afternoon. William took off to go camping, Olivia played with a friend, Beth went plant shopping with a neighbor, and I ran an errand, which turned into a quest that will continue this morning. But, later the quest, and more about yesterday.

I had gone to the post office to mail a letter, real estate taxes, which had to be paid yesterday.  While there, I picked up the new stamp release – Mail a Smile, got a sheet for my mom, and headed home. By the time I got home, Olivia and Beth were talking about going to downtown Wheaton for the carnival or fair, or whatever, but it had rides and carnival stuff and I really did not want to go along. It turned out okay, they went with a neighbor and I took time to write my mom and a couple of other letters and notes while I sat on the deck and enjoyed the late spring evening.

Mail a Smile stamps - some of my favorite Disney movies!

It made me think of the time years ago, when I had left Vie de France and life, as I knew it changed.   I had started with Vie de France in Houston in 1983 while I was in college and stayed with them moving to the Bay Area, Dallas, and ultimately Chicago, when I left them in early 1996. In the final two years of my VdF career, I had become bitter and somewhat disenfranchised from the goals of the company. Looking back it is a whole lot easier to see why I was left behind. I stopped growing and refused to change while all around me change was happening, I just refused to see it or react to it. I had risen in the company from a small market to a larger market with more responsibility, respect, and prestige and I was running the number two restaurant in the chain. It ran well, made money, and was completely remodeled in the summer of ‘94. I was trusted and highly regarded enough to be asked to help open two new restaurants the year after the remodel in ‘95, I was even invited to be part of a team to visit France in fall of ’95 to learn ways to infuse French ambiance and ways of doing things into our restaurants. But, I was bitter and looking for something different and better, and then – one day, the phone rang.

If it were not for that phone call, I would still be there or somewhere similar. I had drifted for years with VdF. They were changing, but not in a way that was good. I knew it, but I had no power to change it, and my vision for change was not part of the equation. At the time in ’95-96 VdF was a small chain was small with 40 or so restaurants; today it is even smaller with only six café’s and only two remain from my time – one in California and the other in D.C. with the other four café’s clustered near company headquarters in D.C. I answered that call, interviewed and gave my notice. My leap was for all the wrong reasons, but it ended up being the leap that saved me. I jumped to Corner Bakery and though I lasted with them less than a year, it was what launched me to where I find myself today.

Neverless, last night as I sat on the deck sipping coffee and writing my mom and my brother, I thought back to that awkward time when I left VdF and less than a year later when I had left the Bakery. After VdF, I kept wondering what was next, I thought I had a vision, but it turned out wrong. After the Bakery, I ended up at Northern Illinois University and two and half years later in the classroom. I never have stopped changing and growing, though at times the change was difficult and painful. I know there is more change on the horizon. I have a plan for the summer, includes lots of change, a lot of growth, and even more. I always try to Make the Days Count, yet I really need to make the next 80 days count in ways I can only imagine and only dream about, today. Making the Days Count, one summer vacation day at a time.

Do you have a vision for your summer? for time away from work, or school? If so, what will you be doing?

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